Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Derek Weeks, Elizabeth White, Ed Featherston, Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Microservices Expo

Cloud Security: Article

After WikiLeaks, What's Next for Document Compliance Management?

A discussion with Brainloop CEO Peter Weger

The WikiLeaks security fiasco has shed a lot of light on document security and its inherent irony: namely that the more confidential a document is, the more it's likely to be shared. Web Security Journal reached out to the CEO of Brainloop, Peter Weger, to discuss document compliance management as a risk mitigation strategy.

Web Security Journal: What security issues do you see becoming more pervasive in the coming months?

Peter Weger: A frequently unaddressed challenge is that companies’ most confidential documents are often those that travel the most outside the enterprise. Business depends on sharing information in collaborative processes like coordination among board members; working with research, supply and distribution partners; and communications with outside experts such as external counsel, consultants, auditors and regulatory authorities. However the more a document has to be accessed outside the corporate network, the greater the risk of leakage, so a company’s most sensitive documents are at much greater risk than other documents.

Web Security Journal: How do most businesses enable collaboration today?

Email continues to be the most common method used for information sharing and communication. Organizations tend to collaborate through this ubiquitous technology, sending emails to their employees, partners, suppliers and customers. These emails, of course, include content, attachments and links, some of which contain sensitive information.

To supplement email functionality, individual departments sometimes acquire Cloud-based collaboration applications, often without advice from corporate IT on the selection, vetting or implementation of these services. These systems provide rudimentary content storage, distribution and work flow that email lacks.


Web Security Journal:
Where do the current methods fall short?

Weger: To state the obvious, email was not designed to be a real-time, multi-user, secure collaboration system. We know that email makes it extremely easy for security policies to be bypassed. A simple “reply all” can find an employee, either unintentionally or maliciously, sending sensitive information to one or more unintended recipients. Email and any attachments that arrive at the recipient’s mail client could be forwarded to other parties that may not have the right or need to view the information. In this latter instance, the organization that owned the data may never find out that this unexpected data sharing activity took place.

Most commercially-available Cloud-based collaboration offerings were purpose-built with a simple, primary objective of sharing information; security became an afterthought for most products. This becomes a serious risk when you consider that these products typically leave the control of the policy and access to the data in the hands of the collaboration solution provider. Some of the top-performing solutions have attempted to wrap security around the content in such a way that end users can apply document protections, requiring them to define the classification and sharing policies themselves. Of course, by putting the decision into the hands of end users with no experience in defining policy, and without the perspective of the company’s central policy standard, poor decisions could be made and sensitive data still exposed to unauthorized access and misuse. Organizations with hundreds of users have no way to ensure consistent application of security measures. In addition to putting their own documents at risk, using unsecure collaboration applications may result in companies violating their contractual obligations to protect their partners’ confidential information.

To address some of these risks, organizations continue to make significant investments in the various perimeter security technologies designed to prevent information from leaving the organization. Some of the technologies used include firewalls, network intrusion prevention systems (IPS), data loss/leak prevention (DLP) and more. The main problem with this ‘protect the perimeter’ approach is that these products focus on protecting at the infrastructure layer, not on the information itself, which must travel outside the network in order for the company to function. This effectively still leaves the user in control of the information’s destiny, which usually leads to the dangerous choice of expedience over security.


Web Security Journal:
What is DCM and how does it fit in?

Weger: Document Compliance Management is a discipline that proactively manages information risk arising from sharing documents electronically.

As organizations move more of their information management processes outside the firewall to the extended enterprise, end users’ demands for collaboration come into conflict with corporate demands to protect information through consistent policy application and control over distribution. DCM seeks to reconcile these demands by creating security provisions that move with documents throughout their lifecycles, both inside and outside the network.


Web Security Journal:
What are some of its applications?

Weger: Organizations that are struggling to collaborate while meeting their regulatory, compliance and governance requirements are grappling with the issues Document Compliance Management addresses. Ultimately, these organizations want to collaborate and transact securely within their communities of trust. Regulatory auditors will look for a complete audit trail that captures the entire lifecycle of the organization’s sensitive information; who had access to which documents at which point in time.

Consider the scenario in which inside counsel is required to work with outside counsel, each sharing sensitive legal documents with their counterparts on the other end. They need to maintain control over their documents after they have left the corporate network and they are required to keep a full audit trail of all document activity. They may deal with documents of varying levels of sensitivity, and need an easy way for end users to apply the appropriate controls to each document.

Another example is the Human Resources team collaborating with healthcare providers, financial services providers, state and federal tax entities, and more. Again, the documents need to be shared with trust and a full audit trail must be available to ensure that employees’ personal information has been protected as it passes to external parties. Some key components of this audit trail must document which information has been provided to which business partner, and whether or not they were able to print it, save it locally, or forward it to other people.


Web Security Journal:
Why not just block all access by default?

Weger: Looking historically at security, most responses to attacks, breaches or compliance exceptions have been to shut down the operation or block the action. Years ago, when organizations experienced viruses running wild through their email systems, they simply shut down email until the problem was resolved. If they were worried about data leaving via USB sticks, they would blanket block the use of USB ports throughout the entire organization. We see this same model being applied to data protection within the collaboration space -- classify data as being sensitive and block it from being shared.

This model fails miserably. A block-by-default policy goes against the business models of today, which rely on employees, partners, suppliers, legal counsel, and other outside parties who must collaborate with each other using sensitive information.

Therefore, the main goal for DCM is to provide a secure means for end users to collaborate within corporate and regulatory policy for all approved parties, both inside and outside the organization. Corporate policy makers should risk rank business processes, define security policies and classifications, and roll them out to end users in a secure collaboration platform. This would ensure the proper use of documents, doing so in a way that is easy and transparent for the end user, without putting the end user in the unenviable position of having to make policy decisions. It must be simple enough that users will be comfortable doing their jobs within the systems they are already familiar with, as opposed to working around a protected system that is blocking them from collaborating.


Web Security Journal:
What should an organization consider when implementing DCM?

Weger: Organizations should try to include these features in their own DCM programs:

  1. Centralized data classification, policy definition, and policy enforcement capabilities
  2. Enables end users to do their job without having to think about security, doing so without making them work outside of their existing business processes
  3. Is flexible enough to support a variety of business processes to prevent the proliferation of disparate point solutions, and can be easily integrated with the company’s existing ecosystem.

Organizations tend to focus on the tactical problems they face with data protection and often look to solve them with technology delivered by their traditional perimeter security vendor. If an organization really wants to be successful in enabling secure business collaboration, they must approach the problem at the document/information level; develop a plan to define and enable their end users, partners, and others to securely collaborate within the boundaries of their internal and/or regulatory constraints.

More Stories By Peter Weger

Peter Weger is CEO of Cambridge, Mass-based Brainloop, a document security vendor. He has 25 years of management experience at companies such as Software AG, Portal Software, Borland and Network Associates. \

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, will compare the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, e...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...